NSW truckie fired after hitting roo wins $17,416

TRUCK driver Rodney Wilkins has been awarded $17,416 in compensation by the Fair Work Commission for being unfairly fired after hitting a dead kangaroo.

Mr Wilkins was working for Green Gables, an Orange-based road freight company, when he hit the body of the roo while driving a four-tonne Isuzu around his usual delivery route.

He said that he had been travelling behind a truck and two cars early on the morning of November 22, 2018, when the kangaroo rolled out from the under the car in front of him and went under the Isuzu.

Mr Wilkins' evidence was that he stopped and checked the Isuzu for damage, but he could not see anything because it was only just coming into daylight and he did not have any light with him. He said the kangaroo was still on the road and looked like it had been dead for some time.

He then proceeded to a petrol station in Orange, when he got under the Isuzu to check again for damage and found that the radiator was leaking. He reported this to Green Gables' mechanic when he returned to the depot. 

Green Gables claimed the incident resulted in a damaged bull bar, crushed cabin grill and ruptured radiator and a repair bill for $11,860.

After reviewing the in-cab GPS tracking data, Green Cables also alleged that Mr Wilkins had been speeding at the time - driving 98km/h in an 80km/h zone - but the Commissioner said this was unable to be substantiated.

The company fired Mr Wilkins, 59, because it alleged he failed to stop to check for damage immediately after the accident and it had a zero speeding policy. Green Cables said data confirmed Mr Wilkins had been speeding on several other occasions during his employment.

But the Commissioner said Green Cables did not correctly notify Mr Wilkins of the reason for his dismissal and he was not given a proper opportunity to respond to the reasons for the firing.

The Commissioner therefore concluded that, despite there being a potentially valid reason for dismissal (the pattern of general speeding), firing him was "disproportionate to the conduct". It was also held that the company had denied procedural fairness to Mr Wilkins.

The truckie said he'd been unable to get a job since the incident and had been living off his savings.

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